Wednesday, February 8, 2012


(photo credit, Cole Bingham)

"You have never talked to a mere mortal." - C.S. Lewis

I got an email from my good friend Windy a few days ago.  She just returned from Nicaragua.  While Windy (on the left here) was there, she visited La Chureca, the Managua city dump that is home to several hundred families.  While at LaChureca, Windy said she ran into a friend of mine... Carolina.

Tears immediately form in the corners of my eyes as I look at the picture.  I am thrilled beyond words to see Carolina.  She looks good.  She is smiling.  And she is a mom now.  She is holding her 6 month old daughter, Rosa.

My mind is full of questions for Windy...

How is Carolina?  Is she still in school?  How is her family?  Is she still working at the feeding center?  Is she in church?  Did she get married?  Who's the father?  Is Rosa well?  Does Carolina still remember me?

Quickly after the immediate questions, the real emotions flood into my heart - sadness and shame.  I'm sure that may sound a bit strange to you.

But, I owe Carolina an apology.  You see, she and I had a deal.

She was the girl who grabbed my hand three and a half years ago as we hiked to the top of the trash dump.  She was the girl who squeezed my hand so tight I had to wiggle my fingers for fear of my hand going numb while we prayed.  Carolina was the girl who drew a picture with crayons of the two of us together when we took them out to lunch.  She was the girl who ate my meal so that she could take her meal back to her brother and sister at home.  She was the girl who laughed at me and meager attempts at the Spanish language.

You see, we had a deal.  As I got onto the bus after that first meeting, I told her that if she stayed in school, I would continue to send her school supplies and money for uniforms.  I told her I would be back.

She was the girl I visited twice more after that day.  She was the girl I wrote to for almost 2 years and sent backpacks full of paper and pens and flip flops to.

She was the girl who changed my life.

I feel like I let her down.

As you know, life here has been a bit messy the past few years.  When S had his first episode and landed in hospital, everything fell apart at the seems for me.  The calendar was cleared so that I could work through things with S and guide the kids through the maze of emotions that went along with it.  Our world came to a screeching halt.  As it should have been.

Any upcoming plans to visit Nicaragua flew right out the window as did communication with the people who shared my love of Nicaragua and its people.  Communication with Carolina did too.

At the time, I told myself that I was needed more at home.  The mental health issues we were dealing with brought everything into question, including my work in Nicaragua with OrphaNetwork.  I started volunteering at the church's food pantry as a way to fill the hole.

I rationalized my actions.

Not that she is completely dependent on me or my backpack care packages.

Honestly though, I still feel like I gave up on her.  I feel like I gave up on myself and the work God put in front of me.  I hope she can forgive me.  And I hope I can forgive myself.

And then I ask myself who I am really speaking to.  Of whom am I asking forgiveness?  Carolina?  Or God?

Maybe I should write Carolina a letter.  Through my broken Spanglesh, maybe she will get the idea of what Im trying to say.

Do I tell her what I've been doing for the past 2 years?  The whole story?  Or maybe just part of the story?  Just the highlights?  Does it even matter to her why I haven't been in contact?

I feel the need to tell her about how our lives got so messy, why I quit writing and sending money.  Why I broke my promise.  How I couldn't tell my right from my left somedays.  How I was doing well to make it to the psych appointments and talk to the school counselor about how his mental health state was affecting my boys.  How even getting up in the morning was a task.

And then I see the irony of the wanting to explain how my life got messy to a girl who lives in a garbage dump.  A girl who depends on a church feeding center for meals.  A girl who I pray has not been forced to sell her body.

And I feel like an ass.

Maybe I shouldn't explain anything at all.  Just apologize and pick up where I left off, with a backpack full of school supplies and a note attached.

When it comes right down to it I just want her to know that she is Important. Beautiful.  Smart.  Strong.  Valuable.  Worthy.  Enough.  Loved.

That God has a plan for her life bigger than she can even see right now.  That she was put on this Earth for a purpose.  That I believe in her.

And there it is.

The gift.

The words I want to speak to her are the very words I need to hear myself.

The words I need her God whisper in my own ears.

Life got messy and you lost your way.  I get it.
I understand.
It happens and this was a necessary detour.
You are forgiven.  and forgiven.  and forgiven.
And loved.  Oh, so loved child!
Smart and valuable.
Worthy and enough.
And through the pain, you are even stronger now. 
But it is time to get back on track with the work I have given you.
Get back to the life I have laid out before you.
It is time to live the life you have been called to live.


  1. Beautiful, Eren. Those are good words for both of you, all of us really. Happy Wednesday to you! ~Beth

  2. You know Eren, Love demands that we never give up on it, even when we have given up on our own selves. Love is the thing with wings and it doesn't need an apology because it is already full of forgiveness. Pick up where you left off and start again. That's more than good enough, because you are loved even if sometimes you can't see it yourself. xx

  3. Thanks for posting these thoughts. It's so hard to know sometimes where our priorities should lie in the midst of the global kingdom and our lives at home. It's easy for me to use the excuse of having a baby not to reach out, but there are probably plenty of things that I can start involving him in too.

  4. i was reading your heart and thinking, oh for you too dear eren, you too. and in the end, you know those words, that love, that understanding and the root of compassion, tenderness and care you bestow is always yours too. yours for the healing. x
    one day at a time, one prayer at a time, one response at a time, one sleep at a time. living the life we are called to live sometimes takes a dramatic turn than what we saw or expected, but it is still it. the gift. the purpose. moving forward even when we feel it standing still or look back and see stagnant water. two groups of words that struck a cord with me lately: "if it is important to you, you will find a way. if not, you'll find an excuse." and "courage doesn't alway roar. sometimes it's the little voice that says i'll try again tomorrow" i wrote a few more words on the last one just this morning on my blog. xo

  5. Eren,
    I didn't even know that you were struggling with so much. I just couldn't find the time to read the blogs... and kept only track with the pictures on flickr, which don't tell much, and it's fine.
    But you know what I think? (if you care...) I think that if Carolina is, like you said, "Important. Beautiful. Smart. Strong. Valuable. Worthy. Enough. Loved.", she can handle the whole explanation. The one that you feel that is pretentious. It's not. It's your truth, and you shouldn't have to spare her that. She deserves it, she deserves to know your feelings, because if what you tell is slightly real, she must love you a lot.

  6. Truly forgetting her would be to walk away forever. You haven't turned your back, you were just taking care of it. You needed to pause for a moment to help those closest to you. You also needed a moment to see your value, worth and how important you are. Know that you can write to her, explain however you see fit and it will be enough. Enough because you cared when others didn't and enough because you know your limits and can sometimes push past them.

  7. You can't be everything to everyone all the time. You dealt with the most pressing issues first and now you are thinking of Carolina again. I agree with Proud Mama that you haven't forgotten her at all.

  8. Just beautiful...made me cry. All grace and peace to you. I agree...just pick up where you left off and share as much or as little as you feel led. You are such a precious woman!!

  9. I have been thinking about this post since I read it earlier this week. Please, be gentle with yourself. You are going through a lot and even though it is not the same as what Carolina has been through, you deserve to take care of yourself. Explain to her what has been going on, let her know you haven't forgotten about her and then keep being the incredible, beautiful person that you are. xo.

  10. Sometimes we need to soak up his love to love ourselves and then spread that love unto others... this is a journey and a process and I am so pleased you are on that path. Take a moment to write her words of love but also grant yourself the same. Know also no matter where you are in your life you can still reach out... that once again you are ready to do so. Let me share a visual that is powerful for me... we all need to fill our cup (ourselves), in fact we need to fill it till it is overflowing... only then can others benefit from it. If it is merely half full it can only provide a set amount. So you needed that time to fill yourself with healing, light and what you and your sons needed. So yes, Eren there is no need to forgive yourself. Feel God's love and the love of others... then reach out and share that love with Caroline and others. Does she need the reason? Only what you wish to tell. Understand gentle lady Caroline understands the pain of a wounded heart and body AS do you. She also knows joy. Pain is pain. Healing and hope are also the same. Just my thoughts late at night.
    Thank you for acknowleding me and yes, I found my way here :-)
    Anne Washington